Maine’s environmentalists are up in arms over proposals by President Donald Trump to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and pare fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said Thursday the president “has declared war on clean air, clean water, and public health” with his proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA’s yearly budget.

“We strongly urge Maine’s congressional delegation to treat this budget as ‘dead on arrival,’ because of its dire consequences for Maine,” she said in a prepared statement. Congress typically uses the president’s proposal as a first draft for a spending plan and makes many revisions to it before passage.

Trump’s budget says that EPA cuts are meant to “ease the burden of unnecessary regulations” and programs, calling for staff reductions of 3,200 people and axing programs such as Energy Star and the Clean Power Plan.

Pohlmann said that if the cuts go through “it will literally kill some of our ecosystems where EPA grant funding provides vital restoration work; send more of our asthmatic kids to emergency rooms, struggling to breathe; create more polluted waters that will be off-limits to swimming, fishing and drinking; and spur more climate-disrupting pollution that will escalate the threats to our lobstering, fishing, and coastal communities.”

“The list of potential damages goes on and on,” she said.

“The president has singled out EPA for some of the deepest cuts in the entire federal budget, Pohlmann said. “This says volumes about his disregard for clean air and clean water, his disrespect for the bipartisan efforts to protect our environment over the past 50 years, and his lack of understanding of the irrefutable reality of climate change.”

The executive director of Maine Conservation Voters, Maureen Drouin, said her group is “appalled to see an executive order” rolling back fuel economy standards.

She said in a prepared statement that Trump’s move “blatantly risks public health, avoids the clear need to act on climate change and ignores the 84 percent of Americans who want tougher fuel efficiency standards.”

Adam Lee, chairman of the board for Lee Auto Malls and a Maine Conservation Voters board member, said in a press release that before President Barack Obama’s heightened fuel-economy rules in 2012, the standards hadn’t been increased in a quarter-century.

“In the five years since then, we have seen a record number of car sales as people seek out fuel-efficient vehicles to reduce their impact on the environment and save money at the gas pump,” Lee said.

Trump aims to roll back even stricter fuel economy standards that Obama’s regulators imposed at the end of his presidency that would take effect during the next decade. He said it would help make Detroit boom again and restore American car makers.

Lee said, though, that “car manufacturers have claimed that they cannot make more efficient vehicles that people will want to buy. Yet every year for the last five have been record sales years and fuel economy has risen by at least 10 percent.”

“People want to buy cars and trucks that get better fuel economy and Maine families are saving money on gas,” he said.

Drouin said that if Trump “succeeds in cutting fuel efficiency standards over the next year, our country will lose a real chance to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and prepare for a changing climate, while saving people money at the gas pump.”

Dylan Voorhees, the climate and clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said in a prepared statement that rolling back the standards for new cars and trucks would be especially bad news for Maine.

“Since Maine has one of the highest asthma rates in the nation, air pollution is a big issue.  And cars and trucks are one of the biggest sources of air pollution,” he said.

“The president’s announcement today directing EPA to rollback vehicle standards for future cars and trucks will threaten the health of Maine people and our economy,” Voorhees said.

Lisa Pohlmann

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